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Posts Tagged ‘Camille Isaacs Morell’

thumb_shutterstock_268078274_1024-800x450 - Partnerships

When we think of philanthropy, images that immediately come to mind are galas and golf tournaments, photos of oversized cheques and smiles, wealthy socialites, high-powered business people and CEOs of non-profit organizations.

The list of social problems and causes – from homelessness to saving the trees – are not going away any time soon.  We know that relying on tax dollars and an already strained public sector bureaucracy won’t solve these problems.   This is why it is not surprising that there are more than 170,000 charities in Canada.  All of them need our money.  And most of us want to be part of the solution.

According to Imagine Canada, we donate $10.6 billion to charities and non-profits and 12.5 million of us   volunteer 2.1 billion hours of our time, which translates to 1.1 million full-time jobs.

As the need to tackle and resolve social issues continues to grow, it is not surprising that 76% of business leaders surveyed by Imagine Canada said that it is difficult to respond favourably to the increasing requests for donations, while 38% said that too many charities are trying to solicit money for the same cause.

Visit the community relations page on the websites of most private sector corporations and you get the same message – We receive numerous worthy requests for donations, however we are only able to support a limited number that align with our charitable vision – and the list of causes that the corporation supports follows.

It’s time to rethink philanthropy. 

Shift the thinking from giving grants and donations to creating private-public sector partnerships. 

In my previous article, I suggested that non-profits should raise funds by helping for-profit organizations be successful.  In this article, I will suggest how corporations, entrepreneurs and professionals in the private sector can contribute to resolving the root causes of social problems by partnering with non-profit organizations, governments and social enterprises.

Implementing innovative solutions through private-public sector partnerships

Private-public sector partnerships are really an expanded form of philanthropy.  Each partner leverages their respective area of expertise.  The result is usually the creation of an innovative solution that neither partner could successfully deliver on their own.   When compared with public sector institutions, private sector corporations generally have stronger capabilities in communications, access to capital, resources to support research and product development, expertise in logistics and far reaching distribution channels.  The public sector can leverage these capabilities and benefit from the private sector’s focus on measured performance and outcomes, particularly in areas such as healthcare where public sector management has produced less than optimal results.

In my experience in the healthcare sector, I have seen private-public sector partnerships work successfully.  Innovative, efficient technologies are being used to resolve problems of overcrowding in emergency departments, collaboration among multiple healthcare providers and supporting chronic disease patients self-manage their health.  All of this has been done without burdensome financial investments or job losses.  For example, all New Brunswick hospitals are now linked to the province’s integrated pharmaceutical supply chain which is co-ordinated through McKesson Canada’s Moncton distribution centre. This is an innovative way of increasing efficiencies in the healthcare system, ensuring patient safety and creating jobs and cost savings.

According to McKinsey & Company, although many private sector corporations tend to approach these partnerships as a purely philanthropic endeavor, their participation can create a virtuous cycle of mutual benefit for all concerned.  Benefits include increased demand for a company’s products and services, a mechanism for joint investment and risk-sharing to create new markets or products. In addition, the partnership can deepen a company’s understanding of key markets and develop valuable networks for future business development.

Purpose-driven impact investment

Social entrepreneurs aim to provide a ‘return to society’ by reducing the impact of poverty, improving access to health, education and technology and protecting the environment, without maximizing profits.  It is estimated that there are 25,000 social enterprises in Canada.  With two thirds of millennials saying that their investments should reflect their social, political and environmental views, we can expect the number of social entrepreneurs to increase.

For-profit organizations and entrepreneurs should consider impact investing as part of their corporate social responsibility programs.  Impact investing combines traditional investing and philanthropy to create social change and financial return.

One way of doing this is by investing in the Social Venture Exchange (SVX).  SVX connects entrepreneurs and organizations seeking to tackle social problems with investors who want to create social impact while generating a financial return.  Another option is to create a social enterprise as a subsidiary of the for-profit organization, established for the purpose of driving social change, with different investment and profit objectives.

Incentivizing employees

When formal partnerships and investing are not feasible, private sector corporations should consider incentivizing their employees to provide pro-bono services to non-profit organizations, particularly on boards and working committees.  Incentives commonly used are the matching of funds raised and financial donations in exchange for employees’ volunteer time.  This is not only beneficial to the non-profit organization, but also for the private sector corporation and its employees.

Employees who volunteer their professional expertise without pay through services such as consulting mandates and project management, benefit from the experience and knowledge gained as well as networking opportunities.  These professionals also gain access to information and insights about economic trends that could potentially provide business opportunities for product innovations, new markets and clients.

Business sustainability is linked to community well-being

Rather than focusing only on short-term profits, businesses should be equally concerned about their long-term sustainability and resilience.

Broadening the scope of philanthropy to include partnerships, impact investing and employee incentives to address social problems is, in my opinion, the key to business sustainability.

Sustainable businesses that can surmount the challenges of sudden changes in the market will survive in the long run if they are connected to healthy economic, social and environmental systems. These businesses will create economic value by contributing to strong communities in which the adverse effects of poverty, ill-health and environmental harm are minimized.  In the long-run, when the public, private and non-profit sectors work together in partnership, we create a culture of communal solidarity in which all citizens have a fair chance to have a good quality of life.

Further reading –

McKinsey & Company Report on Public-Private Partnerships – Harnessing the private sector’s unique ability to enhance social impact

The Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation website

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell is a marketing professional with an insatiable curiosity to learn more, to do better and to make a difference in the world.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

@Camille21162

 

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Y DES FEMMES DeFI CARIATIF BANQUE SCOTIA

Photo: YWCA Montreal team at Scotiabank Charity Challenge / Défi Caritatif Montreal 2015

I used to think that 13 was an unlucky number, but I changed my mind a few years ago.  A brand awareness survey found that 13% of non-client respondents were likely to do business with our company because it sponsored community events and charities they cared about.

Our corporate marketing team got lucky because the 13% result surpassed expectations, justified budget renewal and provided proof that our corporate philanthropy program benefited business goals.

According to Imagine Canada, a national charitable organization that represents the charitable sector, charities and non-profits receive around $2.8 billion from corporations.  The majority of corporations contribute to charities because they understand that healthy communities are good for business.

But corporate philanthropy is becoming more challenging.  And many of the more than 150,000 charitable organizations in Canada are down on their luck.

Thirty-eight percent of companies said that too many charities are trying to solicit money for the same cause.  Traditional cheque book philanthropy is rapidly being replaced by strategic partnerships that benefit both the community and corporate donors.

With shrinking government funding, charities are challenged to find the best way of raising funds from corporate and individual donors.   But this presents an opportunity for charities to find unique and creative ways to raise the funds needed for survival.

How to raise funds for charity?  Help corporations to be successful

A few suggestions that charitable organizations may want to consider…

Pride of association

Charitable organizations can support business by bringing together donors at in-person events to raise funds and network.  Out of this comes pride of association with like-minded peers who share the same concerns and commitment to the charitable cause.

  • A good example is the United Way of Ottawa’s GenNEXT Giving Circle.  United Way organizes networking and fundraising events and initiatives where young people can learn about the needs in their community, volunteer their time, and put their dollars to work where they will have the greatest impact.

Shared community of buyers and donors

Charitable organizations can also support client engagement and expand the number of clients for corporations.  By creating strategic partnerships charities and corporations can launch major events to promote products and build public awareness of the charity’s cause, with the intention of building a shared community of donors and clients.

  • A few years ago, The Salvation Army partnered with Montreal-based designers and staged a fashion show to raise funds for L’Abri d’espoir, a shelter for abused women and their children. The event was used to leverage the brands of the charity and of the fashion designers to create a shared community of buyers and donors who support the cause of protecting women from violence.   

Community and employee engagement

Apart from soliciting donations from corporations who care about their causes, charitable organizations should also ask corporations to volunteer their expertise.  Charitable organizations can organize employee volunteer activities that support employee engagement and strengthen teamwork.

  • According to Volunteer Canada, employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is emerging as a regular practice among many of today’s employers seeking to give back to the community. ESV activities and programs are a new “shared value” approach, helping businesses strengthen community relationships and improve employee engagement. They also give non-profits access to new resources and skills while allowing employees to refine and enhance their skills and expand their networks.

Sharing information for thought leadership

Charitable organizations are well-placed to provide valuable data and insights on the causes they advocate and the services they provide.  This information can be shared with thought leaders and persons of influence who have access to the podiums at thought leadership events.    Many chambers of commerce and think tanks host events attended by the audiences that are likely to become interested in the charitable organizations’ causes.  Through thought leadership, corporations can increase their reputation as experts in a particular industry or as key contributors to the quest for solutions in fields such as healthcare and economic development.

Adopt business practices

Although well-intentioned tactics can be used to solicit financial support, charities cannot rely on luck and goodwill.

The common element in all of these suggestions is the creation of relationships with the aim of engaging corporations in committed partnerships that lead to sustained support for charitable organizations.

Like for-profit corporations, charitable organizations must adopt business practices to increase awareness by creating differentiated messages and developing relationships that provide a mutual exchange of benefits.  This requires deliberate planning with the aim of achieving specific outcomes that are good for charities, businesses and communities.

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com 

@Camille21162

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August 15, 1993, was to have been the luckiest day in my life.  I landed in Montreal, Canada, as a permanent resident with a job already lined up!  Fluent in French and with a degree from a North American university, I was hired as a management trainee in a major Canadian institution.  Unlike most new immigrants to Canada, the obstacles of language, foreign qualifications and Canadian work experience were not standing in my way.  As you can see from my first professional photograph, my big, long hair framed a bright-eyed, smiling face that was filled with optimism.

Six months later, I was telling a different story.

I was struggling in an unhappy work environment with colleagues who were unhelpful and insensitive to my efforts to ‘fit in.’   And it was nobody’s fault.

I came from a hierarchical, formal workplace culture in the Jamaican public sector where ”junior officers” were expected to learn by listening attentively and taking notes in meetings with their “seniors.”  Meritocracy, the quality of written reports and giving the right information when it was asked for, put you on the path to promotion and success.  In Canada, I didn’t understand that it was okay and expected of trainees to speak up, participate and ask challenging questions in meetings with clients.  The feedback I got from my politically correct Canadian colleagues was that they viewed me as shy.  A few others bluntly questioned my level of interest and enthusiasm for the job.  This all came as a surprise.  Far from being shy, I have always been passionate about my work.

Caught in a mire of cultural misunderstanding, my experience was a source of bewilderment for both me and my employer.   According to a 2012 report by the Progress Career Planning Institute, the challenge persists to this day.   Workplace acculturation – the adoption of behaviours that are in harmony with the corporate culture – is a major hurdle for professional immigrants when trying to establish a career.

There is tremendous focus on attracting immigrant employees, language learning, cultural educational programs, fast-tracking foreign students’ permanent resident applications and, most importantly, guiding immigrants through the job search process.  But once the job offer is accepted, it must not be assumed that all is well.

‘Diversity’ is a politically correct buzzword 

During my job search prior to migrating to Canada, virtually every organization listed diversity among its corporate values.  Job postings and brochures had standard statements announcing the organization’s commitment to diversity, surrounded by photos of groups of smiling multi-ethnic employees.  There was no mention of workplace acculturation programs in recruitment materials and I didn’t feel the need to ask.

Now that workplace diversity is commonplace, diversity statistics may provide a breakdown of various groups within the employee population, but the experience of employees, whether reported or observed, can tell a different story.

Focus on workplace integration – for all employees

Rather than focusing primarily on hiring a diverse workforce, Canadian employers should take specific steps towards creating an integrated workforce – a place where everyone feels that they “fit in.”  When my colleagues joked that I was “different,” I didn’t quite understand what that meant.  It left me wondering quite often whether being different was a good or bad thing, and if I was fitting in.

Every employer wants a good fit between new employees and company culture.  This can be complicated when the new employee is an immigrant; and yet, how well current employees integrate with new immigrants is equally important. There is a case to be made for new immigrants and their Canadian colleagues to participate in workplace acculturation programs.

Based on my own work and integration experience, I would have the following recommendations for employers of new immigrants:

  • Avoid setting up programs designed specifically for ethnic groups, as this may lead to the creation of silos and a source of resentment for other employees.
  • Provide immediate peer support and allow for an adjustment period to allow new immigrant employees and their Canadian colleagues to work on integration.
  • Guide new immigrants towards social media networks and professional groups and encourage participation in the organization’s social events.
  • Stop giving and accepting “cultural differences” as an easy excuse for poor integration. Provide cross-cultural workshops and forums for open communication and conflict resolution.
  • Give new immigrants opportunities to apply their foreign experience: it may provide the organization with new ways of doing business, and even provide a competitive advantage.
  • Build mentorship programs for new immigrants, especially those in leadership positions and who are people managers, to ensure that cultural differences do not affect team-building and performance evaluation.

In my case, I was fortunate to meet several business contacts early on, and they introduced me to professional networks and associations.  It was through interacting with a good mix of foreign-born and Canadian colleagues that I learned more about the Canadian business environment, expanded my network and progressed in my career.  While I may still seem “different” at times, I work effectively with my Canadian co-workers, and they value my contribution and international experience.

Immigrants are here to stay…and more are coming

The Conference Board of Canada  says Canada will have to rely on immigration to fill gaps in a workforce depleted by slow growth and an aging population.    Statistics Canada predicts nearly half of Canada’s population will be immigrants, or children of immigrants, in less than 20 years from now.  In other words, the need for workplace acculturation programs is not going away.

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell came to Canada nearly 24 years ago from Jamaica and the USA where she gained extensive experience working with persons of various ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.  She is a marketing professional and volunteer, passionately committed to making an impactful contribution to the creation of a truly integrated global village, where everyone has a fair chance to be successful.  

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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This is the text of an article I wrote which was published in the Sunday Gleaner in Jamaica on 23 April 2017.

The article is one in a series sponsored by the University of the West Indies, highlighting the relevance and value of an education in the arts and humanities.

multi_mon24

It came as no surprise when I told my parents that I wanted to study foreign languages at the University of the West Indies (UWI). My father, an educator specialising in physics and mathematics, and my mother, a career civil servant in the financial stream, always encouraged my sister and me to excel academically and develop our talents in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. They believed that this was how we would find out what we really wanted to do in life.

During my years at Immaculate Conception High School, I learnt foreign languages easily and excelled in history and English language and literature, where essays and term papers were frequently assigned. I was at ease meeting and speaking with foreigners in Jamaica, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, and these experiences piqued my curiosity about foreign cultures and would later serve to complement my love of languages in a way that would benefit my career.

The sweeping social and political changes in the 1970s during my teenage years gave me the burning desire to ‘do something’ to change Jamaica and the world. By far, the best years of my life were spent at UWI, where I pursued a bachelor’s in language and linguistic studies. Like my batchmates, I was ‘in my element’ learning from an interesting mix of professors from Germany, France, Spain, El Salvador, Haiti, Colombia, and Guyana. In the course of study, we were required to research foreign and local issues and to express our opinions in all of the foreign languages we were studying. We were graded for accuracy in grammar and vocabulary as well as for depth of analysis and critical thinking.

I remember my father telling me that although it was important to master the foreign languages, it was even more important for me to master the skills of critical, innovative thinking, effective communication, and the ability to quickly adapt to new business situations in order to be a successful applicant for a job. I gained all this and more during my time in the BA programme at UWI.

Beyond the academic training, there were other experiences at the UWI that were to shape my view of the world and my career. Along with my classmates, I was deeply involved in organising student-exchange programmes with the Universidad AutÛnoma de Santo Domingo, French Students’ weekend retreats, German Days, Foreign Language Students’ concerts, lectures, and language club activities with visitors from various embassies in Kingston.

Immersed in a sea of intercultural experiences, our minds were opened to diverse political thought and philosophies. As much as we learnt about other cultures, we also taught others about our own.

SOUGHT OPPORTUNITIES

Along the way, I met many people who questioned the value of studying foreign languages and an arts degree. Instead of trying to provide them with the ‘right’ answers, I actively and eagerly sought opportunities to put my training to work. I was a liaison aide at the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference and the Organization of American States General Assembly, which were hosted in Jamaica. I spent my summers as an intern at the Jamaica Tourist Board. Many people I met had studied the arts and humanities and told me how they had forged successful career paths in business, government, and international relations. I realised then that the options were many and that my proficiency in foreign languages gave me an advantage.

After university, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in the Protocol and Consular Division. There, I had the opportunity to translate official documents and serve as the interpreter in meetings with very senior officials. This is where I learnt about the main issues of the day in international politics, trade, travel, tourism, and law. I observed first hand how language and communication in all its forms played into business deal-making and international relations.

With this experience, I gladly accepted new challenges to serve in the Economic and Foreign Trade Divisions in the ministry and represent Jamaica at international conferences in the Caribbean and the Americas. I witnessed the emerging trends in globalisation and the increasing role of the private sector in international trade.

I decided to do an MBA in international business and marketing at the University of Miami, where at that time, the focus was on preparing a new generation of global business leaders. This degree opened doors to a career in the private sector in Jamaica and then in Montreal, Canada, where I currently reside. My academic training in languages at the UWI continues to be of great value. I communicate daily in French, which is the language of business in Montreal, the largest city in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

My desire as a teenager “to do something” for Jamaica and the world has morphed into a career in marketing in global institutions. In the various roles I have played, I have been involved in the creation of multilingual marketing communication programmes, international trade finance and credit-risk assessment, and the development of global brands, while managing teams of persons with diverse backgrounds.

Over the years, I have been, and still am, a committed volunteer, where my training in business and in the arts has been considered to be of added value. I currently serve on the board of directors of the YWCA-Montreal, an organisation whose clientele consists of a large number of immigrants who are being equipped to become fully integrated into the society. I have been invited to write articles and speak in English and French at churches to youth groups and professional associations, mainly on topics related to personal and professional development in a multicultural society.

In a world where technological innovation is held as the gold standard for progress, and where students are encouraged to pursue purely technical degree programmes, it should never be forgotten that technology is only valuable if it meets people’s needs. Often, my colleagues and business associates who do not have any formal training in the arts and humanities express appreciation for the broader perspectives and recommendations that I have brought to technical projects, particularly with regard to clients’ needs.

I truly believe that my foundation in the arts, more specifically the degree programme at the UWI, has led me take an analytic approach that presents diverse opinions and perspectives of various stakeholders, which is critical to understanding and successfully meeting clients’ needs.

With a career spanning more than 30 years in Jamaica, the USA, and Canada, I know that I will never retire. There is so much more work to be done to make the world a better place. I am truly grateful for the education in the arts, which has shaped my view of the world and has served to support all my professional pursuits. The knowledge gained and the skills that were honed in those early years are still relevant and of value in a changing world and will continue to equip me to contribute to building a truly integrated global village.

– This article is one in a series that seeks to promote and highlight the impact of the arts and humanities on the individual’s personal development and career path. Please send feedback to fhe@uwimona.edu.jm

 

Visit camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

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Il y a un grand nombre de définitions du « leadership ».  Peu importe comment vous le définissez, le « leadership » s’agit d’inspirer les gens à réaliser les objectifs.

Le leadership efficace est essentiel pour la réalisation des objectifs, même s’ils ne sont pas liés aux revenus et profits,  l’état futur désiré d’un pays, la mise en place d’un nouveau programme ou la promotion d’une cause.

Il y a aussi la question éternellement posée et considérée : « Est-ce qu’un leader est né ou créé ? »

Je ne vais pas essayer de donner une réponse définitive à cette question.  Je sais qu’il y a quelques personnes qui ont la capabilité naturelle d’inspirer les gens à réaliser les objectifs.  Il y en a d’autres qui, avec du coaching et la formation, sont capables de devenir les leaders performants et réussis.

En tant que chef leader dans les secteurs privé et des OSBL, je suis convaincue que c’est la motivation personnelle qui est primordiale pour le succès dans un rôle de leadership.

Ceux qui souhaitent accéder aux postes de leadership doivent vraiment avoir le désir d’être leader et doivent être motivés à atteindre les buts et objectifs en travaillant avec, et par l’entremise des gens qu’ils dirigent.

Pour déterminer leur propre niveau de motivation personnelle, les leaders futurs et les leaders expérimentés qui considèrent un nouveau mandat, devraient être en mesure de répondre à ces deux questions :

  1. Aimez-vous le pouvoir plus que vous aimez les gens ?
  2. Est-ce que la compétition pour le poste de leadership est plus importante que votre engagement à la cause, vision et objectifs ?

 

LES CHEFS LEADERS DOIVENT AIMER LES GENS PLUS QUE LE POUVOIR.

ILS DOIVENT ÊTRE PLUS ENGAGÉS À LA CAUSE QU’À LA COMPÉTITION.

 

Le désir d’accéder aux postes de leadership et de pouvoir n’est pas « une mauvaise chose »

Dans une société civile, les postes de pouvoir – soient dans les secteurs corporatif, social ou politique – offrent les opportunités aux leaders d’influencer et effectuer le changement qui bénéficie les gens.  Les bons leaders qui font preuve de l’éthique devraient être encouragés d’accéder aux postes dans lesquels ils auront le pouvoir d’aider les gens.

Le désir d’accéder aux postes de leadership et de pouvoir implique la compétition.  La compétition pour un poste de pouvoir devrait être une activité juste et saine, qu’offre l’opportunité à chaque candidat d’expliquer les raisons pour lesquelles il devrait être sélectionné pour le poste.

Un leader authentique devrait  être en mesure de définir clairement –

  1. La vision qu’il a l’intention de réaliser
  2. Comment il va inspirer et engager les gens à s’impliquer à la réalisation de la vision
  3. Les avantages concrets de son mandat de leadership

Leadership – il ne s’agit pas seulement du titre du poste, c’est l’engagement à la cause

Dès que le leader assume son rôle, il lui incombe de démontrer ses compétences, dont la plus importante est, à mon avis, le courage.  Il y a deux dimensions au courage – le courage interne et le courage externe.

Le courage interne est l’engagement inébranlable aux valeurs personnelles ainsi qu’à l’intégrité, y compris la capacité de décider honnêtement si l’on est la meilleure personne pour combler le poste de leadership pour servir l’intérêt de tous.

Le courage public est la capabilité de prendre les décisions difficiles et impopulaires, même dans le cadre de critiques accablantes et injustes.

Voir le tableau d’ensemble.  Cibler les éléments importants.

Chaque leader devrait tenir au cœur le désir et motivation pour servir. Bien que les chefs inspirent les gens à réaliser les objectifs, un leader exceptionnel voit toujours le tableau d’ensemble des avantages principaux et assure les meilleurs résultats pour toutes les parties prenantes.

Plus important que de se concentrer sur la position de pouvoir et du processus pour y accéder, est l’engagement du leader au succès durable de l’organisation, les gens et le pays qu’il a l’intention de diriger.

 

Cet article était originellement rédigé en anglais, en août 2016, à la suite de la campagne Brexit et les conventions nationales des partis républicain et démocrate des États-Unis.

Camille Isaacs-Morell, est un leader chevronné en planification stratégique et gestion de projets marketing et communication dans les secteurs des soins de la santé,  des services financiers, des affaires étrangères et des OSBL au Canada, ÉU et les Caraïbes.  Sa passion est d’inspirer les gens et les entreprises à améliorer la qualité de vie pour créer ensemble un meilleur monde. 

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

 

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Branding-cropped

The haters are having a field day on social media.  The over 3,000 followers of the I hate United Airlines Facebook page have every reason to be cheesed off.

There really is a disconnect between the airline’s renown brand messages – “Fly the friendly skies” and “We are United” – and everything the public has witnessed since April 9, when a passenger was removed from UAL flight 3411.

The video of the bloodied, screaming passenger being dragged off the aircraft and the reports that followed, have left the impression of an airline that is anything but friendly – that customers’ needs don’t count,  employees have no empathy and that the airline will solve problems in its own way.

According to the company’s website, United Airlines’ brand is “more than words on paper.  It is shaped by every aspect of (the) customer and co-worker experience.”  If this is true, should we assume that what happened on April 9 was an isolated incident?  Should we believe United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz’s statement three days later that the incident does not reflect “who our family at United is”?

Although we would like to consider that this was an isolated incident which does not define United Airlines, the behaviour of the CEO has led the public to believe otherwise.  The delayed response and initial statements of the CEO have reinforced his employees’ lack of empathy for clients in favour of operating procedures and demonstrates that there is a glaring gap between the customer experience and the United Airlines brand.    Here’s why:


The aftermath: United Airlines’ brand equity is depleted
In a television interview on April 12, Mr. Munoz said that he felt shame after seeing the viral video and stated that every passenger on the flight would be fully refunded.  Even though he also said that it’s never too late to do the right thing, it will take more than compensation to fix the damage.

It will be a long shot for United Airlines to restore confidence in its promise “to make to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.”  This is because its brand equity has been depleted.  Recent poll results indicate that the incident has adversely impacted the perception and preference for the United Airlines brand, potentially resulting in financial losses.

  • According to aMorning Consult poll that surveyed a national sample of 1,976 American adults, 79 percent of respondents who had heard about United’s recent news said they would choose a different airline if that airline — the poll specifically used American Airlines as a stand-in — offered an identical flight for the same price.
  • Among those respondents who hadn’theard of United’s troubles, only 51 percent would choose an American Airlines flight over an identical United flight, with 49 percent choosing United. The near-exact 50-50 split among respondents who haven’t been following the news about United indicates that the recent incidents have had a massive, polarizing effect on public perception of the airline among anyone who’s been paying attention to the news.

Those who are in charge of United Airlines’ marketing and public relations are best placed to explain if the incident and the subsequent statements are the result of misinformed or uninformed employees and CEO who don’t understand the true meaning of the company’s brand and how it ought to flow through to operations, customer service and communications.  These poll results are a reminder that brand equity losses have the potential to cancel out the fortune spent by Marketing departments and agencies on the careful crafting of brand definitions and deployment of brand strategies.

All areas of the organization play a role in brand credibility and equity

In many organizations Marketing is regarded as “the lipstick on the pig” – the stuff that makes for well-crafted, feel-good advertisements that mask the ugliness of complicated back-office operations and procedures that contribute to unfortunate customer experiences.

Very often the brand and brand promise are defined by Marketing, without connecting the dots to all areas of the business.  When this happens, the back-office is not configured to support the customer experience; customer-facing teams are ill-equipped to serve customers; budgets don’t get approved for investments in training, IT development and operational processes that ultimately impact the customer experience. This is how brands lose credibility and consequently, brand equity.

Brands build credibility and equity when all customer and public touch-points reflect an accurate understanding of customer needs and expectations.

With organizations having access to large amounts of data, customers are increasingly demanding more personalized service with the expectation that communications will be transparent and that customer convenience and needs will be prioritized in operating processes. The language used by corporate representatives at every level or the organization, whether to inform, communicate or react, has to be consistent with all that the company says that its brand stands for.

Invest in marketing programmes and in people

It is not enough for the C-suite to sign off on brand strategies and to be impressed by the number of ‘likes’ on social media and business leads generated by modern marketing technology.  Time and money must also be continually invested to train the C-Suite and all employees, to reinforce the connection between the organization’s brand, corporate values, client service and communication protocols.

Only time will tell if the United Airlines brand will recover from this disaster.  Real work has to start on the creation of a clearly defined brand, ensuring that everything the brand stands for prevails in every aspect of the airline’s operations and in the public’s perception of all its employees, including its most senior officers.

There is much to be learned and corrected by United Airlines.  This is also true for many other organizations.

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com 

@Camille21162

 

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How to turn on the voice of the customer in your B2B content marketing

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A few years ago, one of my colleagues told me that he felt like a teenage boy who got a girl to say yes to his invitation for their first date, but not to the second.

He was discouraged because he couldn’t close his large case sales, in spite being invited to finalist presentations.  He admitted that there had to be something wrong with his sales pitch.  He needed his marketing colleagues to help him nurture business leads before making the sales pitch.

He was right about where he went wrong:  His interactions with potential customers were always about making a sale, not about explaining value propositions that addressed their needs and made them want to buy.

To state the obvious, marketing narratives and sales pitches must be relevant and resonate with potential customers.  With the pressure on marketers to produce content that generates business leads and converts prospects to sales, it is ironic that only 17% of content marketers reported that their organization’s content marketing strategy was more successful when compared with one year ago.

A possible reason for this weak outcome is that there is a lot of content marketing that is more focused on making a sales pitch, which can be a real turn-off.  Even if customers don’t quite know how to define their needs, I believe that it is necessary to incorporate the voice of the customer in marketing communication as a lead in to sales pitches and finalist presentations.

Henry Ford reportedly said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  

And even if they would have said they wanted faster horses, the insight was that there was a real need for speedier form of transportation.

 

 

Three turn-offs

Here are three common mistakes that turn potential customers off, and how to avoid them

1.Large amounts of data and information that don’t add  value.  

Target audiences usually have seen or read about various solutions to the problems and challenges they are facing.  The last thing potential customers need is a rehash of what they already know.  Repetition is boring and so is data-heavy text.

One way of getting around this is to integrate the voice of the customer and highlight insights gained from customers’ input, which could then serve as the starting point to present potential solutions.   By doing this, potential customers see that their needs are deeply understood and are being addressed.  Quotes from industry associations, stakeholder groups and market survey results are generally regarded as good sources that echo the customer’s voice.

2. Jumping quickly to speak about your branded solution in communication material. 

Potential customers don’t initially care about product features and brands.  They have a problem to be solved and they need to know about the pros, cons and impacts of the solution. Promoting a branded product or service up-front can be a real turn-off as it sends the message that the sales transaction is all that matters.

A better approach is to be brand agnostic, at first.  Explain the rationale for the solution options and clearly highlight how the needs identified by the customer are met.  The branded solution can be introduced in a case study and in the call to action for potential customers to make inquiries.

3.Describing features and benefits without validation from a credible source

Potential customers want to hear the voice of other customers who are facing similar challenges and have similar needs.  A call to action that does not ask for a sale, but makes a valuable offer (e.g. demo, time limited trial, consultation) is always appropriate.

The use of a real-world case study or customer testimonial in marketing communication, gives a voice to the customer in front of other customers and adds credibility to the marketing and sales plans.

Vendor or partner

From my own experience in the healthcare sector, the feedback from potential customers and other stakeholders always boiled down to the need for partnerships rather than vendor/buyer relationships.

Potential customers want to partner with providers who deeply understand their business needs

Access to C-suite decision-makers is gained when vendors are regarded as trusted, credible partners.  Credibility comes from using subject-matter expertise to help potential customers think differently about their problem and how the solution options create value for the customer.

Save the explicit sales pitch until after awareness, consideration and preference have been gained and trust has been earned.

Here are a few tips on how to create content marketing material that engages interest and builds trust –

  • Light use of data to validate key issues
  • Succinct summary of the challenges and issues
  • Engage readers by giving each stakeholder group a voice
  • Integrate stakeholder recommendations in the solution proposal
  • Case study and customer testimonial to validate the solution

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell loves social media and enjoys reading articles and blog posts on content marketing. She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of business-to-business enterprises and non-profit organizations in a leadership role with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

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